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More than 70 percent of Kenyans in severe financial distress : Infotrak Survey

A majority of Kenyans are in severe financial distress or are struggling to make ends meet a new poll shows.

The poll by Infotrak research firm indicates that out of the 73 percent affected Kenyans, 18 percent are in severe financial distress while 55 percent are struggling to make ends meet.

According to the survey, conducted between December 18 and 19, 2023, only 5 percent of Kenyans are living comfortably amid soaring cost of living and increased tax burden.

Johvine Wanyingo, Infotrak research manager, the poll indicated that the current economic hardship has forced 45 percent of Kenyans to engage in side hustles to supplement their income.

Another 41 percent have reduced their expenditure on non-essentials while 18 percent have taken out loans to fill the gap.

The resultant effects of the economic challenges have led to 48 percent of Kenyans suffering increased stress and anxiety, 32 percent strain on relationships, 21 percent physical health issues and 18 percent mental health issues.

North Eastern at 78 percent is the most affected region followed by Coast 76 percent, Central 74 percent and Rift Valley at 73 percent.

In terms of age group, young people between ages 18 and 26 years and those above 55 years are worst hit at 77 percent.

According to the survey, which involved 1,500 respondents, Kenyans have devised coping mechanisms including seeking additional employment or income sources at 45 percent, cutting back on non-essential expenses, 41 percent, taking out loans at 18 percent, and borrowing money from friends at 15 percent, among other ways.

In terms of gender, most men at 47 percent are seeking additional employment or income sources and 44 percent are cutting back on non-essential expenses while most women at 21 percent are taking out loans.

Family and friends at 48 percent have been most helpful, followed by government assistance programmes at 24 percent, NGOs at 19 percent, online financial management resources at 12 percent, and employer assistance programmes at 10 percent.

Most females at 52 percent depend on friends and family for support.

Western and Eastern regions depend on family and friends, while Coast on government programmes, and NGOs.

The outlook is bleak with 48 percent of Kenyans thinking the cost of living will increase, 67 percent of school fees to increase, 51 percent cost of energy, 56 percent of unemployment to increase, 40 percent cost of fertiliser to increase and 52 percent think the dollar exchange rate will increase.

Kenyans have identified specific areas that need more support to cope with the hard economic situations this year.

A total of 26 percent say there is a need to reduce the cost of living, 13 percent say reduce fuel cost and create employment opportunities, 12 percent reduce taxation, 6 percent say support the agriculture sector and provide loans on low interest, 3 percent ensure there is food security countrywide, 2 percent improve the health sector.

The poll has a +/-2.53 margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level.

comulo@ke.nationmedia.com

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